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McCain says he will vote 'no' for GOP health-care bill, dealing major blow to repeal effort

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) boards an elevator on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Sept. 18, 2017. McCain on Sept. 22 announced he would oppose the latest Republican proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act, leaving GOP leaders with little hope of succeeding in their last-ditch attempt to dismantle the health law. (Tom Brenner/copyright 2017 The New York Times)

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced Friday that he does not support the latest Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, dealing a major and potentially decisive blow to the last-ditch attempt to fulfill a seven-year GOP promise.

McCain's comments came on the same day that Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who like McCain, voted against a GOP leadership health-care bill in July, said she was likely to oppose the proposal.

McCain joins Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in firmly opposing the plan. Senate Republicans cannot afford to lose any more GOP defections, given the united Democratic resistance to the measure.

In a lengthy written statement, McCain said he "cannot in good conscience" vote for the legislation from Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., which GOP leaders have been aiming to bring to the Senate floor next week.

"I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it," said McCain.

Collins signaled Friday that she is edging close to becoming a decided "no."

"I'm leaning against the bill," she said at an event in Portland. "I'm just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine."

Collins has said she is particularly worried that by giving states wide latitude to change the ACA's current requirements, it could prompt insurers to hike up rates for consumers with costly medical conditions.

"I'm reading the fine print on Graham-Cassidy," she said, adding that for those with preexisting conditions, "the premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable."